Harvested Zambezi Teak Furniture
About our Harvested Zambezi Teak Timber at Savanna Wood:
The Savanna Wood Factory has been operating in Victoria Falls for the past 15 years. We are associated with Food & Trees for Africa www.trees.co.za - The first (and still the only) national public benefit, civil society greening organisation in Southern Africa. We support sustainable development through permaculture and the establishing of food gardens for disadvantaged communities across Southern Africa.
We pride ourselves in the fact that our timber comes from sustainable (managed) forestry resources.
There is a huge expanse of ancient sands (the largest single expanse of sand in the world) in Western Central Africa known as the Kalahari Sand Veldt. It covers vast areas of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. On this sand grows a most beautiful tree referred to as Zambezi Teak, since many of the greatest forests occur along the banks of that famous river. During the early months of the year each tree produces thousands of sprays of exquisite purple flowers, so that the vast green carpet of trees is covered in a blanket of purple.
It so happens that this marvelous tree also produces some of the finest timber in the world. Not only is it exceptionally beautiful, with a rich red brown colour and tight grain that polishes up like a mirror, it is also exceptionally hard. So hard in fact that it is impervious to attack from white ants or the moulds and micro organisms that cause lesser hardwoods to rot and disappear with time.
As human populations expand there is a seemingly inevitable conflict between people and the natural environment they inhabit. This is a particular problem in poorer parts of the world where peasants must sustain themselves without help from central Government. They need land to grow crops and if there are trees in the way they will quite understandably cut them down to make way for food crops. This, unfortunately, has happened already to large areas of Zambezi Teak forest in Central Africa. However, if the communities benefit from the forests around them more than they would benefit from cutting them down (which, after all, is very hard work!), they will help to look after the forest. If this benefit to local communities is combined with the sustainable utilisation of the forest so that it actually improves in biomass and quality with time, then we have a win win situation all round. That is exactly what we are achieving at Savanna Wood. We have a policy of giving preferential employment opportunity to people from the communities near the forest. This is very much appreciated by the communities as one employee will support an extended family. Savanna Wood pay royalties on all timber cut to Forestry Commission and into a trust for development projects in the communities living on the fringes of the forests. These projects include self sufficiency gardening projects, installation of boreholes, development of school and clinic infrastructure and so on. The communities benefit directly from the forest with access to grazing for their cattle, collection of honey and access to firewood from felled trees or offcuts from the milling process. Forestry Commission ensure that only sustainable volumes of timber are extracted, and actually mark the trees to be removed. Detailed audits are carried out annually to assess the regrowth and calculate what timber can safely be removed. We work with them to ensure fire breaks are constructed and maintained, undesirable or exotic species are removed, dead wood that is blocking the growth of young trees is moved, and so on. Where copsing is too prolific, we thin out the saplings to ensure there is not too much competition – rather have two strong, healthy trees than eight weak ones!